The struggle is real. We’re all trying to figure out this whole “being an adult” thing and part of it is knowing what you need in your home. Let’s start with one of the most basic items that should be on your list – towels.

You need kitchen towels and bath towels, but it’s a good idea to also have storage for beach towels, gym towels, and microfiber towels. Here are all the different types of towels you need to know!

How Many Types of Towels Are There?

How Many Types of Towels Are There?

How Many Types of Towels Are There?

There are about 15 types of towels you may have around the house. Every home should have a set of bath towels that includes hand towels, wash cloths, and large, soft towels you can use for your hair and body.

You also need kitchen towels, cleaning towels, and a few extra towels for odds and ends like mopping up sweat at the gym or caring for your pets. If there’s still room in the linen closet, you can also splurge on decorative towels for holidays and stylish beach towels the family can use during the summer.

What Are the Different Types of Towels?

Get your shopping list ready! If you just moved into a new home, you’ll want to make sure you have all these towels in your linen closet.

Bath Towels

Bath Towels

A bath towel is made from cotton, polyester, wool, hemp, ramie, bamboo, linen, or terry cloth. Look for big, fluffy towels that you can wrap around your body after getting out of the shower.

Hand Towels

Hand Towels

You’ll either drape hand towels over a rack in your bathroom, or leave them on the counter next to the sink. These towels are smaller than bath towels, but just as useful.

Washcloths

Washcloths

Washcloths are the smallest towels in the linen closet. You can use them to wash your face, but they’re also handy for cleaning, art projects, and even as a loofah in the shower.

Face Towels

Face Towels

According to dermatologists, you need to wash your face every day to remove dirt, oil, and dead skin cells. A face towel is perfect for the job since it’s absorbent, soft, and easy to clean. You should also use one to remove makeup before you go to bed at night.

Hair Towels

Hair Towels

Moisture-wicking towels are lifesavers if you have long hair. You can wrap your tresses into the towel after a shower, helping them dry a lot faster. Be on the hunt for soft terry cloth or 100% cotton towels that are easy to twist.

Kitchen Towels

Kitchen Towels

Hang a kitchen towel on your oven or around the handle of your refrigerator. These towels are made from durable, thick terry cloth or cotton, making them great for drying dishes, wiping up spills, and drying your hands while you’re cooking.

Tea Towels

Tea Towels

A tea towel is a small cloth that you can use to line a basket of bread, biscuits, or baked pastries. These small cloths are designed to keep the food warm for as long as possible.

Beach Towels

Beach Towels

Feel the sand in your toes, but keep it out of your car and bathing suit! A large beach towel is great for lazy days by the water. Since beach towels are designed for outdoor use, you don’t have to worry about the color fading in the sun.

Gym Towels

Gym Towels

Don’t sweat it! Gym towels drape around your neck so you can easily use them after an intense workout. Because they’re designed to mop up sweat, they’re often made from moisture-wicking materials like microfiber or a cotton blend.

Fingertip Towels

Fingertip Towels

Chefs, stylists, and maids all benefit from using fingertip towels. These towels are larger than washcloths, but smaller than hand towels. You can use them to quickly dry hands and fingers while you’re working.

Spa Towels

Spa Towels

Do you want to feel relaxed? Buy spa towels to keep in your closet at home. The soft, plush material will trick your brain into thinking you’re getting a pedicure or full-body massage!

Foot Towels - Bath Mats

Foot Towels (Bath Mats)

A foot towel, or bath mat, is a cloth that you lay down on the floor in your bathroom. These mats come in a variety of cute shapes and bold colors and prevent you from slipping when you get out of the shower.

Cooling Towels

Cooling Towels

Cooling towels are great for hot summer days, but are also wonderful ice packs if you have aching muscles. To use one, simply soak it in water for two to three minutes, wring it out, and then wrap it around the area of your body that needs cooling relief.

Golf Towels

Golf Towels

Are you tired of going over par? Start bringing a golf towel with you to the course! These towels, which clip to your golf bag, can be used to dry golf balls if they get damp. They also absorb moisture from your sweaty hands before you grip the club, resulting in a better swing.

Microfiber Towels

Microfiber Towels

Microfiber towels are insanely useful to have around your house! You can use one to dust your shelves, clean your car, scrub spills on the stove, polish glass, and clean smudges on your TV or smartphone.

Pet Towels

Pet Towels

Nothing smells worse than a wet dog! Get your pet dry after a bath by using an animal-safe towel. Synthetic microfiber is a popular material since it works quickly on coarse animal hair.

Paper Towels

Paper Towels

Americans use around 13 billion pounds of paper towels every year. Unfortunately, these towels end up in landfills, and as they decompose, they produce methane gas that’s harmful to the air we breathe. It’s much better for the planet (and your wallet) to use as few paper towels as possible.

Turkish Towels

Turkish Towels

A Turkish towel is made from Turkish cotton, which is known for being durable and soft due to its long fibers. You’ll sometimes see these towels with fringe at the end, making them both decorative and practical.

Baby Towels

Baby Towels

Aww, how cute! Baby towels are usually smaller than normal bath towels and have an attached hood. This keeps your little one snug as a bug when they get out of the tub.

Decorative Towels

Decorative Towels

Hand towels and kitchen towels can be more fancy than practical. These decorative towels are meant to be for display use only and are often themed for seasons or holidays. You can also get monogrammed towels as wedding gifts!

What is the Difference Between a Hand Towel and a Kitchen Towel?

A dish (kitchen) towel is typically made from thick cotton or terry cloth, while a hand towel is made from cotton, polyester, bamboo, or linen. You use dish towels in the kitchen, while hand towels are primarily used in the bathroom.

This infographic shows you the differences between hand towels vs. kitchen towels.


Hand Towels VS Kitchen Towels
Hand Towels VS Kitchen Towels

Hand towels:

  • Made from cotton, polyester, bamboo, or linen
  • Soft, plush material
  • Absorbent
  • Used in the bathroom

Kitchen towels:

  • Made from cotton, terry cloth, linen, or microfiber
  • Thick material
  • Absorbent
  • Used in the kitchen

Both types of towels are designed to be absorbent. This is because you repeatedly use them to dry dishes or your hands. You may even use the same towel for a week before washing.

What Are the Different Towel Sizes?

What Are the Different Towel Sizes?

What Are the Different Towel Sizes?

Every towel is sized a bit differently, but as a general rule of thumb, here are the dimensions you can expect:

  • Kitchen Towels: 20” x 30”
  • Washcloths: 12” x 12”
  • Hand Towels: 20” x 30”
  • Fingertip Towels: 11” x 18”
  • Regular Bath Towels: 27” x 52”
  • Large Bath Towels: 30” x 56”
  • Bath Mats: 39” x 59”
  • Gym Towels: 33” x 63”
  • Beach Towels: 58” x 70”

The larger the better when it comes to bath towels and beach towels. Washcloths, hand towels, and kitchen towels, on the other hand, should be smaller so they’re easy to use.

Which Towel Material is Best?

Which Towel Material is Best?

Which Towel Material is Best?

Egyptian or Turkish cotton towels are the softest, but hemp or bamboo towels are the most eco-friendly. Do you want towels that are absorbent? Microfiber or terry cloth are the way to go! Ultimately, you should think about your wants and needs before buying.

Here is a full list of towel materials and what’s best about each one!

  • Cotton
    • Egyptian cotton – Super soft and absorbent
    • Turkish cotton – Lightweight and quick-drying
    • Pima cotton – Plush, absorbent, and affordable
    • Organic cotton – Eco-friendly
    • Cotton blend (polyester) – Affordable and good for cleaning
  • Microfiber – Absorbent, durable, and quick-drying
  • Linen – Lightweight and durable
  • Bamboo – Eco-friendly, soft, and absorbent
  • Hemp – Eco-friendly and durable
  • Ramie – Absorbent and lightweight
  • Terry Cloth – Absorbent and durable

How to Choose the Best Towels

Bath towels are the most important towels in your home. While shopping, pay attention to all of the following:

Softness

Softness

The best towels are soft, fluffy, and comfortable. Look for a material and texture that doesn’t irritate your skin. Egyptian cotton, Pima cotton, and bamboo are the most plush and luxurious fabrics for towels.

Color Appearance

Color/Appearance

Towels come in so many different colors and are patterns, so why buy a set that is boring? Choose towels that make you happy and look good in your home!

Size

Size

Every member of your family should have a bath towel that works for them. Kids need something small, while adults need towels that wrap easily around their body and/or hair. You should also have a few smaller washcloths and hand towels in your closet.

Fiber Quality

Fiber Quality

The way the towels are sewn together will affect the overall quality. Ringspun fibers are thicker and therefore more absorbent than combed fibers, whereas a waffle weave isn’t as soft, but is quick to dry. Ask ahead of time to see how the towels were made before making a purchase.

High GSM Count

High GSM Count

GSM, or grams per square meter, are used to measure a towel’s density. The higher the GSM, the heavier the towel, which means it will be softer, more durable, and more absorbent. Try to find towels that are between 400 and 900 GSM.

Durability

Durability

You don’t want to have to buy new towels every year. Invest in a set that will last you for a long time. Organic or Egyptian cotton are often recommended, but keep in mind, they also have a higher price tag.

Machine Washable

Machine Washable

Nobody wants to handwash their towels! Be sure your towels are safe for the machine. You should use cold water for colorful towels and hot water for white towels.

Price

Price

Above all, it’s important that the towels you buy aren’t outrageously expensive. Find a set that checks all the boxes, but is still budget-friendly.

Check online reviews to see what other people are saying before you buy new towels. Every brand is a bit different, so you want to make sure you’re investing in towels that last you for years.

How Many Towels Do You Need?

How Many Towels Do You Need?

How Many Towels Do You Need?

There is no perfect formula for how many towels you need in your household, but if you really want a number, it’s safe to buy two bath towels, two hand towels, and two washcloths for every person who lives under your roof. You should also make sure to have at least five dish towels that you can use in the kitchen.

If there’s space in your linen closet, go ahead and add a few gym towels, beach towels, and decorative towels. You don’t have to go crazy, but you do want enough for any random messes and to avoid doing laundry every day.

Of course, these numbers aren’t set in stone. A surfer will need more beach towels than someone who lives on a farm, while a bodybuilder will want more sweat towels than a parent who goes to yoga twice a week. Adjust to fit your lifestyle!

Did you know?

In 2019, a journalist for New York Magazine tweeted that you should own at least 10 bath towels, 10 hand towels, and 20 washcloths. His comment earned its own hashtag, #towelgate, with people debating whether or not his estimate was accurate.

How Often Should You Replace Bath Towels?

How Often Should You Replace Bath Towels?

How Often Should You Replace Bath Towels?

High-quality towels last two to five years before they need to be replaced, but you should buy new towels even sooner if yours are tattered or smell like mildew.

Take care of your towels and keep them in good condition. Wash them properly, don’t bring them outdoors (unless they’re old), and make sure they’re totally dry before you put them in storage. The more care you put into your towels, the longer they will last!

The Bottom Line

You don’t have to buy hundreds of new towels for your home. Just stick with the basics and make sure they fit comfortably in your linen closet. Now have fun being an adult!

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